Thursday, November 13, 2008

WC's Sensory Diet

My Mid Mid-Life Crisis writes: Sasha, I teach children who need some sensory stimulation to help cope with their disabilities. Any suggestions about things you use at home to give your child a "sensory diet"? I have some things I am currently using, but I'm always looking for more suggestions!

That's a great question! I'm currently reading this book and came upon a great section on Sensory Diets.

The Out-of-Sync Child
From page 229 "Just as the main food groups provide daily nutritional requirements, a daily sensory diet fulfills physical and emotional needs. The out-of-sync child needs an individualized diet of tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive nourishment more than most not doesn't know how to get it. So, we must and can help.
A sensory diet includes a combination of alerting, organizing, and calming activities."
Here are some of the things I've found help WC. Some of these came from our OT, and some WC was already seeking herself (smart little thing).
Alerting- benefit the underresponsive child, who needs a boost to become effectively aroused
  • Crunchy food- she loves and asks for cereal, popcorn, chips, crackers, pretzels, and ice
  • Jumping up and down on a mattress or trampoline- we got a mini tramp at the suggestion of the CDS and WC sometimes seeks it out on her own
  • Drinking large amounts of Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade- WC practically begs for this, and the OT realized that she was "seeking" oral stimulation because this is pretty tart!
  • She also loves lots of spicy food- Hot Mustard from McDonald's, salsa, spicy chips- the spicier the better
Organizing- help regulate the child's responses
  • Chewy foods- including granola bars, fruit bars, chewy fruit snacks, cheese sticks
  • Play dough and coloring
  • At OT, she loves that yucky goo that has bugs in it- she loves getting the bugs out
Calming- help decrease sensory overload
  • Getting massages- she'll say "I need a massage"- we concentrate on one body part at a time and do sort of a deep-tissue massage
  • She insists on us rocking her in the rocking chair before bed- she knows she needs this transition time and rocking helps her relax
  • Popsicles- the sucking activity is calming
  • We use a white-noise machine in her room at night and she finds it calming
WC's main issue is "regulation" which means she has trouble modulating (adjusting) her mood and senses. Because of this, she needs a sensory diet that includes all of the above since she can go from being understimulated (sensory-seeking) to overstimulated in 60 seconds. Transitions are rough and she can basically be described as uneven. But we have seen great improvement from OT and from simply being more aware of how her system works.
If you don't mind sharing, I'd love to hear what items you include in the sensory diets of your students!


Adlibby said...

Whoa... interesting that I just chanced across your blog. I have a six year old daughter who is being evaluated by an OT next week for Sensory Processing Issues and handwriting problems that she is now having in first grade. She also had a hemangioma, but it seems to have resolved of its own accord. Any reason to think that there is a connection between sensory issues and hems?

So sorry that your little pumpkin had to endure that. Interesting tips on sensory diet. I'm reading that book too. We'll have to compare notes. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the extra tips. We had a foster son who was 2 and was going through being evaluated with OT and was suspected of having Sensory Processing Disorder (he has since gone home so I'm not sure how the eval went, but all screenings were pretty conclusive). Foster children quite often come with sensory problems so I'm always looking for more ideas. One that seemd to work well for our little guy was to have him wear a very small backpack with some heavier objects in them.

adlibby - our little guy had a hemangioma too...very interesting...

Sasha said...

OK, now that's CRAZY. Three kids with Hs who also have SPD issues.....

I read somewhere that sometimes the SPD can develop from events in life- so maybe the pain from the H manifested itself in sensory processing problems?

Very interesting....

Kids, Canines, and Chaos said...

Sasha.. thanks for the info! The things I'm using in my classroom are containers with different textures to manipulate. One jar has feathers to rub their hands in. Another contains many plastic beads they can run their fingers through and pour out on the ground to walk on. I also have decorating marbles (flat on the bottom) and they just informed me they are cold, too.. so they love walking on them and rubbing them on their face. I also have dowel rods with sandpaper for the texture, as well. I have not done a lot with food as the school has concerns with allergies, etc. I also read about doing things with water, as that is a great thing for little ones to touch.

Thanks for your help! Any other info you have would be greatly appreciated! :)

Special K said...

Wow! Pretty crazy. Who would have guessed her "behavior" problems were sensory related. Weird but my husband is obsessed with all of the foods you had listed for the same reasons. And he's always chewing on his fingernails. I think we may have found the link to how Logan got his sensory issues!

Multislacking Mama said...

Oh, Sasha. Your WC has the best Mommy ever. You are doing a fantastic (splendid) job.

((((HUgS)))) Momma.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sasha- I'm so glad you found that book- it's really informative. Some other things you might try that sometimes work with my kindergartners- marching around (something about the heel making firm/strong contact with the ground), chewing gum, and carrying heavy objects (I'll sometimes just send a student next door with a couple of bottles of paint). There's also a catalog with great materials- I can't remember it off-hand right now, but I'll find it when I return to school on Monday- Good luck- your little one is lucky that you're already so knowledgeable about techniques that help.

Anonymous said...

Sasha- It's been a crazy week (Parent Teacher Conferences)- but the catalog I mentioned is Integrations: Sensory solutions- at I hope it's useful to you